Road Trips, even those taken during spring break (Fort Lauderdale, anyone?), are, believe it or not, just as much part of the educational process of one’s entire college experience as classes, field trips and on-campus jobs are. This is likely due to their unsupervised and free-for-all nature. Why? Anything can happen, just as is the case when one gets out into the real world. Such experiences can be applied to one’s college learning as well.
Of course, it all depends on where one goes. Each place, as everyone knows, is different, so the experiences that one has will also be different. For example, the aforesaid Fort Lauderdale, Florida, offers fun-in-the-sun on the beach, whereas the Grand Canyon features vast openness for hiking. At both of these places, independence is constant, where students take care of themselves, pay their own way through, and are subject to the laws just like everyone else. This is general for every road trip, but it teaches responsibility in the real world, that which can be applied to living at the university. For one thing, responsibility brings insight into what is important in life and also forces students to take on a more serious attitude toward that which is important. Ultimately, the students develop a stronger drive and a more focused approach toward their studies.
This is one of the basic educational benefits indigenous to road trips. Another would be to experience different parts of the country—learning through their exposure to different places. This can offer insight for social studies and geography, linguistics, even creative arts, as this broadens the students’ horizons. Additionally, some road trips can inspire students to develop new interests, such as an interest in skiing when one goes on her/his first ski trip to, say, Colorado.
One fine recent instance of this was the case of a group of college students in Nevada who, for a field trip visited, of all places, a brothel. This is the only state in which prostitution is legal, albeit only in certain areas (believe it or not, prostitution is not legal in the great city of Las Vegas, as would have been expected by those who are vaguely familiar with the law in the state), especially in the northern counties. In their encounters interviewing with the prostitutes who were willing and open to talk, the students gained insight on why some women choose this lifestyle. This was, in some ways, an unusual field trip—even questionable in the eyes of some university administrative processes—but it was an informative, growing experience that would lead to a very engaging paper for the students who were involved.
Another kind of educational road trip, although it is more than a simple road trip, is the still-popular hike through Europe. Learning new languages and cultural mores come into play here as well as the advantages mentioned above. This is an exciting multiple-month excursion that will afford the sophistication that will assist students in personal and intellectual growth.
The ultimate consideration regarding road trips is that, although they are quite often deemed recreational vacations, they look great on a résumé under Extra Curricular Activities. The road trip reflects a well-rounded individual who has learned new things about the world outside of the classroom. This tends to make students (i.e. future employment prospects) appear as colorful people—and many employers love colorful people.
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